Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a popular newspaper column for years entitled My Day. My starchly conservative grandmother, Evelyn Hicks Boehner, would work in her kitchen and mutter “My Day. MY day. Who cares about her day?”
I didn’t get it then, but I get it now. My grandmother’s day was every bit as important as Eleanor’s. I think of those things and how my own day has changed so dramatically over the past few decades. I’m really not a “back in my day” sort of person. I don’t want this collection of essays to become some maudlin Forever Young tear-jerker. But maybe there is a time and place for comparing “in my day” to the current world.
I like some new things, you know.
It may surprise my close friends, but I enjoy young people with their unspoiled exuberance and energy. I am secretly hopeful of their spirit, because they want to change the world and I remember when I wanted to do that. I disguise my faith in them with the rough exterior of a curmudgeon. It works well for me, keeping them at arm’s length so I can concentrate on saving the world.
There are plenty of new things I like. Cell phones, for example, though I worry about people who seem to be addicted to them. A phone/calendar/reminder list/newspaper in my pocket is a convenience I enjoy, yet I often put mine down and walk away from it. There is a part of me who misses the days when there was only one phone in the house and we didn’t answer it during suppertime.
I miss the news on television. Every network promises us news and every day—all day—there are men and women on there telling us things, but this is not news. Depending on the network, it’s a version of the truth, slanted to reflect a particular idiology. Television journalism, in its infancy, was basically radio that you could watch. It began as a fifteen minute public service with not-so-attractive guys reading real, hard news and trying to be un-biased. Yes, they had one or two commercials, but it was a basic premise that if CBS lost the Colgate account, there would still be a news program the next day, and it wouldn’t prefer one toothpaste over another. That’s why we called it a public service.
Thinking that you’re getting unadulterated, un-manipulated information from today’s 24-hour news cycle is like walking into a Las Vegas casino assuming the odds are in your favor. The only way to survive is with your eyes wide open and your hand on your wallet. Today’s television news is not about truth. It’s about pushing an agenda while making advertising money at the cost of our own unguarded innocence. We would do well to remember Benjamin Franklin’s admonition: “Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.” Today, in reality, one must decide which side of an argument he or she wants to hear, and then select the appropriate network.
Unbiased reporting is dead. It died of a lingering sickness. The last time we saw real unbiased reporting was on November 22, 1963, and it lasted three days. There wasn’t time to slant it; there was time only to tell what was happening.
I’m stepping off the “news soapbox” now, but think about this: of all the news you learned yesterday, couldn’t you have learned it in thirty minutes from Walter Cronkite and then gone on to spend your time doing something pleasant?